Parents Have Their Say on Schools Reopening in the UK

Andrew Lynch

It’s guaranteed that for many, this school year will be a confusing and worrisome one. Never before has there been talk of children wearing face masks in the halls or being separated from their peers at breaktime. It will be a year no student will forget in a hurry. We wanted to find out what the nation’s parents thought about this unprecedented school year.

We spoke to 1,097 parents across the UK to get their feelings on letting their kids go back to school.

Key findings:

Are parents sending their children back?

Across the board, most parents are planning on sending their children back on the first day. 1 in 20 (6.7%) are not planning on sending their child in, whereas 13.5% are still unsure. 

Of the 20% who were either ‘unsure’ or not sending their child back on the first day, the most popular reasons were the risk of them coming into contact with the virus, or the risk of them catching it. Parents also raised the following as key issues leading them to their decision:

£60 fines for parents

With the Government announcing that £60 fines can be issued by councils to those parents who take their children out of school without authorisation, we asked parents where they stand on the issue. 

Almost 3 in 4 parents are willing to pay the fine if they feel the need to pull their child out of school at any point. Whilst most may be planning on sending their children to school, parents are, it seems, prepared to pay the price to take their child out of school should it be deemed necessary. 

Changing Government guidelines

Overall, parents seem confused by changing Government guidelines for going back to school. According to our polling, 1 in 5 (22%) parents are unsure on their understanding of government policy for returning to school. The majority, 78%, felt that they ‘definitely’ had an understanding or ‘think’ they have a good understanding of current government guidelines.

Social distancing in schools

7 out of 10 parents are generally accepting that social distancing can work in schools, this does mean some parents are sending their children back even with some doubts in the pandemic precaution. The data does also suggest however, that almost 3 in 20 parents don’t have faith in social distancing in schools. 

Learning from home

With home-education the norm in 2020, we also asked parents if they believed that schools had done enough to help students to catch-up during the pandemic period. 1 in 10 parents don’t think schools have done enough to keep children caught up with education, but the majority of parents are accepting that teachers have helped enough with studies during the period. 

Do you think schools have done enough during over the course of the lockdown and its easings to keep children “caught up” on their education? %
Yes, I think so 38%
Yes, definitely 34%
Not sure 17%
No, I don’t think so 9%
No, definitely not 2%

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the majority of parents would welcome remote learning as a part of their children’s educational future. 

8% of parents gave up on homeschooling

As this year was the first time many parents had tried remote learning, we asked parents if they kept up their homeschooling duties throughout the pandemic. 8% of parents admitted to not continuing their children’s education at home during and after lockdown. 

Vaccinations for children

As a vaccine continues to be found, we asked parents for their thoughts on if, and when, they would give their children the vaccine should it be created soon. Only 4% of parents would outright refuse to vaccinate their child, with the vast majority happy to take it. However, 1 in 5 parents would only give the vaccine to their child if they became sick with the virus.

If a vaccine became available for UK school-children, would you let your child have it? %
Yes, straight away 54%
Yes, but only if they got sick with the virus 22%
Yes, but only after some time has passed and there are no major side-effects reported 11%
Yes, but only if someone they'd been in contact with someone who had contracted the virus 10%
No 3%

Taking public transport to school

Getting the school bus is one of the most regular occurrences for many students, this year, that may change. 1 in 10 (13%) parents told us they will not let their children take public transport to school, stating they will find an alternative means. The majority (87%) were happy to continue using public transport to get their children to school. 

Are parents prepared for the worse? 

We posed our parents this question: if cases and deaths rose after the start of the school year, but the Government decided to not close schools, would you take your child out of school? 

64% are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to do so should the scenario present itself. 18% stated they were not sure what they would do, whilst 18% said they were ‘somewhat unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’.